Westminster's Space for Cycling Ride Highlights the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Westminster Cycling Campaign organised a led ride on Sunday 04 May 2014 as part of the Space for Cycling campaign. The ride visited many of the 20 wards in which we have asked local election candidates for action – as well as some examples of good practice, of which we would like to see more.
You can see a map of the 'asks' in Westminster and throughout London on the Space for Cycling webpage, and email your local election candidates for their support.
Cyclists from Westminster and other boroughs joined us for the ride, and we believe the first Space for Cycling 'ask' highlighted is one that affects people from our borough and much further afield:
Protected space for cycling at Lancaster Gate gyratory: The Lancaster Gate gyratory is a formidable obstacle to cycling along the Bayswater Road, especially in a west-east direction. With little prospect of an alternative route through Kensington Gardens, it is important to remove this obstacle. The East-West Cycling Superhighway also passes through this gyratory.
At the time of writing, two candidates for Hyde Park ward have supported this request.
The journey continued southward through the sunny surroundings of Hyde Park, along West Carriage Drive, Rotten Row and out through Albert Gate using the valued cycling facility, albeit slightly cramped by car parking as it passes into William Street. There are many good cycling facilities in Westminster, although it is slightly depressing how many of them were already present when the GLC produced their Cycling For London video in 1984. (Albion Gate is shown at 16:00 minutes. Thank you to 'treeshaveears' for uploading the video to YouTube).
The ride paused to highlight the next Space for Cycling 'ask', in a location that could be as beautiful as Camden's Fitzroy Square (see below) and Bedford Square, yet instead was probably the most unpleasant cycling location visited by the ride.
Reconfiguration of Belgrave Square: Belgrave Square, a masterpiece of 19th-century town planning is currently a racetrack and a car park. An action plan is badly needed to address this desecration and create a better environment for walking and cycling. The Square will be the end of Cycle Superhighway 5.
At the time of writing, only one candidate for Knightsbridge & Belgravia ward has supported this request, which is disappointing when one considers that this 'ask' has appeal to a much wider audience than just cyclists.
The group enjoyed lunch at a café on Horseferry Road, before continuing through Parliament Square and Soho and then making a brief foray into Camden. Here we visited Fitzroy Square, which made an interesting contrast with Belgrave Square, where we had been earlier in the ride.
We finished at the popular Little Venice Canalway Cavalcade event, where we highlighted the requests for two-way cycling along Blomfield Road and Delamere Terrace.
In summary the ride showed there are many good cycling facilities and beautiful sights in Westminster, but there are also several areas that require improvement to provide a safe environment that is attractive to new cyclists. The pace of improvement in Westminster has been slow, but Westminster Cycling Campaign is confident that Transport for London and Westminster City Council’s proposal for Central London Grid of Cycle Superhighways and Quietways will bring a significant acceleration of the pace of improvements.
This post was edited by Westminster Cycling Campaign at 4:15pm 20 May 2014.